Wednesday, March 26, 2008

when scientists communicate

How would you translate "charismatic megafauna" when trying to reach a public audience? That was the challenge for one wildlife biologist in the "Communicating Science" workshop I facilitated. Sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Science Foundation, the workshops allowed scientists in Northern California to gather for an overview of communicating clearly with public and media audiences. AAAS has posted coverage of the first session here, noting:
The San Jose event attracted 44 participants from varied academic career levels, disciplines, and institutions. Attendees gave the day-long workshop high marks on surveys, identifying among its most valuable components the provision of informational resources, close interaction among participants, and discovering a shared interest among other scientists in communicating research to broader audiences.
That wildlife biologist volunteered for a live remake of her key messages about her research, which looks at migration pathways for important species ranging from birds and salamanders to mountain lions (those charismatic megafauna) that are threatened by pending development. I'm pleased to say that she--and many others at the workshop--found to their surprise that they could translate their technical work in ways easy for public audiences to grasp. Next: The April 3 workshop in Raleigh, North Carolina. You can check out more resources for scientist-communicators on the AAAS website.

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